Morning Train Reads: Beautiful Ruins

11447921I can’t lie. The reason I picked Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walters was 95% the nice cover art and 5% that I saw it had good reviews on Good Reads. Luckily, judging this book by its cover worked out in the end. It was one of those books that tells the stories of several different characters throughout, and their paths all intersect at the end. The book centers primarily on a love story in a tiny coastal town in Italy, and covers several decades of time. It was an enjoyable, easy read, and perfect for summer.


Fantastic Halloween

First of all, if you haven’t seen Wes Anderson’s “The Fantastic Mr. Fox,” I highly recommend that you do. If you don’t want to, that’s ok — I’ve watched it enough times for everyone.

Alex and I decided to be Mr. and Mrs. Fox from the movie. The costumes were relatively easy to put together. We found fox hats at Target in Seattle, and I got fox-colored tights and a dress similar to the one Mrs. Fox wears in the movie. Alex found a suit and tie at Goodwill, and I sewed tails for both of us with cotton, felt, and cotton stuffing.

I took some pictures pre-Halloween outing, but forgot to actually bring my camera out. This is the only I got of us together!

Halloween is definitely my favorite! I’m not sure how many years I have left to dress up, but I hope there are at least a few more.

The Inaugural Pumpkin Day

It seems to me that random holidays are popping up everywhere. In fact, I just found out that my birthday is also National Coffee Day. I’m not complaining! We decided to hop on the holiday bandwagon and create one of our own — Pumpkin Day. I think Pumpkin Day, which takes place on October 1, should be an annual event. We agreed to hold off on pumpkin flavored everything (food, coffee, beer, etc.) and have it all (or most of it) on October 1. It was a great success.

We started the day with pumpkin spice French toast.

Next up — pumpkin spice lattes from Stickboy Bakery. We brought pumpkin spice marshmallows (oh yeah, they exist) to add to our drinks.

After a short break, we moved on to pumpkin spice cookies (from a mix, I’ll admit it) with orange Halloween frosting and pumpkin spice Hershey Kisses.

Alex was just interested in eating the dough, mostly.

Did you know they sell pumpkin pie liqueur? Neither did I. But it’s delicious and we had it with coffee after dinner.

Alex managed to try both pumpkin cheesecake AND pumpkin pie.

Last up on the Pumpkin Day agenda was pumpkin beer! Our favorite beer & wine store in Boone had a convenient sampler of pumpkin beers. We tried them all, and they are pictured with our favorite on the far left and least favorite on the far right.

We agreed — the Cottonwood Pumpkin was the best!

Can’t wait for next year’s Pumpkin Day! I highly recommend celebrating this important holiday.

High Country Beer Festival!

This weekend, I got to go to my first ever beer fest. They’ve had one in Boone the past few years, but I didn’t know about it last year and missed it all together. This time we got our tickets early, and my friend Shana who lives in Spain for most of the year even got to come too!

We got these nice little beer glasses and set out to try beers from 53 different breweries. There were quite a few North Carolina breweries represented, which was cool.



I asked Shana and Alex for their top three beers from Saturday.

Shana’s were: the Oktoberfest by the Olde Hickory Brewery, the Tasgall Ale by Highlands Brewery, and the Black ale by Full Sail.

Alex liked: Harvest Time by Big Boss, the Blue Point Hoptical Illusion, and the Uinta Detour.

And mine were: The Raleigh Red by Roth Brewing Company, Harvest Time by Big Boss, and Saison by Sierra Nevada.

Mini-Parkway vacation

For as close as I live to the Blue Ridge Parkway, various hiking spots, and various natural areas, I admittedly spend way too much time in town/inside. This weekend, we decided to take a mini-trip to Crabtree Falls, which is about an hour from Boone. My dad used to go to the falls a lot as a child, and we went as a family last fall. The falls were really beautiful and the weather was perfect.

Then, we headed to Little Switzerland, which is a small community/business district near Spruce Pine, N.C. There’s a cafe there where I have eaten with my family [we had BBQ sandwiches and apple pie a la mode!], as well as a used bookstore called “Books & Beans,” which is basically my ideal combination of things. I picked up “The Baron in the Trees” by Italo Calvino (one of my favorite authors) which will round out my summer reading project if I ever get my ass in gear and finish “The People of Paper.”

It was a fun day trip. I need to get out on the Parkway more while the weather’s nice.

Maybe if I take my book out there this week I won’t have any distractions to prevent me from finishing it!

A Nice Surprise

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Our yard is not much to look at. The teenage next-door neighbor half-heartedly mows the grass about once a week, but does nothing to the growing masses of weeds that surround the house. There are beds of weeds outside my kitchen window, on either side of our front door, and along the front walk. I once went out and starting pulling the weeds, but removing them just left large patches of brown dirt in which I did not plan on planting. I decided green weeds were better to look at than brown dirt, and that I shouldn’t worry too much about the landscaping of my temporary home. When I pulled up to the house for lunch today, though, I was happy to see these tall, beautiful purple flowers which had sprouted triumphantly from one of our many beds of weeds next to a bug-eaten hosta. I must have missed them in my early morning stupor on the way to work. They are about three feet tall and I really hope they stay a while.

I got Tom’s Shoes today. I had been resisting for a long time, but caved in and got them for my trip.

Tom’s Shoes are definitely part of what I like to call the “Boone uniform.” I’m pretty sure every girl here has them. I have otherwise failed to acquire articles of clothing included in the Boone uniform, which may account for the strange looks I get on a regular basis when walking around town. Or, it could be something else. I’m not sure.

Someone once told me that people who live/go to school here dress in clothes they could wear to go hiking in at a moment’s notice, which appears to be true. However, that statement made me imagine the following scenario:

I’m walking home from work one day when a Jeep Wrangler [with the top town] pulls up to me, full of mountain men with mountain beards and dreads. One calls out, “COME ON!! It’s time for an impromptu hiking trip!! Get in the car!!” 

I like to go hiking on occasion, so I reply, “Ok, but can you give me five minutes to run inside my house and change?” 

“NO YOU CAN’T! You should have been dressed for this already! Get in!!!”

Not wanting to disappoint, I join the group. Later, as we cross a gorge on a rickety swinging bridge made of rotting wood, my leopard print ballet flat slips on a wet plank and I plummet to my death in the ice cold water hundreds of feet below. 

I don’t think I want friends like that anyway.